As art and technology come together, a growing number of cultural institutions is finding creative ways to leverage smartphone capabilities. With the goal of enhancing overall visitor experience within their facilities, these institutions are turning to mobile apps as comprehensive, yet highly tailored and interactive informational resources.
Dozens of examples from around the world vividly demonstrate how integrating mobile technology into museum operations opens new vistas. Someone visiting a museum for the first time can now use the museum app to navigate easily through the entire facility. The new customer gains the ability to consult detailed information about museum exhibits, to participate in virtual tours, and to access extensive background materials about any aspect of the collection that sparks interest.
Here is how several of the world’s most renowned museums have achieved this type of seamless digital integration through their museum apps for iPhone:
1. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Manhattan, NYC
Renowned worldwide as the most influential museum of modern art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan holds some of the greatest artworks of the modern era: Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, to name just a few.
MoMA has employed mobile technology to broaden their visitors’ understanding of modern art and to provide them with access to the thousands of museum’s artworks at the touch of a finger. Museum of Modern Art’s iPhone app allows visitors to take a multimedia tour around the museum premises listening to audio and video podcasts about specific pieces. This way they can learn more about individual artists and their tools and techniques, as well as better appreciate the artwork in the context of its time.
Even before setting a foot in the facility, curious art enthusiasts can check MoMA’s in-app calendar of events to discover what’s happening at the museum on any given day. This makes it easy to plan a visit to the institution days, weeks, or even months in advance.
2. Musée Du Louvre, Paris, France
Probably best known as the home to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre boasts a collection that has been described as one of the most impressive in history. Within its 652,300 square feet of exhibition space, it maintains eight departments dedicated to Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, medieval prints and drawings, Near Eastern antiquities, Islamic art, and even ancient Egyptian antiquities.
In order to help visitors get the most out of their visit, the Louvre has created a museum app for iPhone that serves both as a digital floor plan of the museum and a personal informational resource. The application introduces visitors to the interior and exterior of the Louvre palace where the museum itself is housed, and allows them to access an indoor map that pinpoints each artwork’s location. This makes it easier and more efficient for users to get around the exhibition areas – particularly during the periods with a high volume of visitor traffic.
Remote app users can enjoy a stunning gallery of more than 100 chosen artworks that are exhibited in the museum. Each image comes in high resolution and is accompanied by several close-ups and a brief text with some general information about the piece. Thanks to integrations with email and Facebook, each user can share their favorites with a network of family and friends.
3. The American Museum of Natural History, Manhattan, NYC
With exhibition area spreading across four city blocks and forty-five exhibition halls, the American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world. Its stunning collection of 32 million artifacts and specimens includes fossils, plants, rocks, meteors, human tools and more.
The museum has developed several thematic museum apps to cater for visitors with different interests. The flagship app called Explorer acts as a personal tour guide that seamlessly navigates visitors through the institution’s facilities and discovers the quickest routes to desired exhibits, restroom facilities, cafes and shops, and guide users with turn-by-turn features.
Visitors have the possibility to choose between a variety of museum-designed thematic tours or create their personalized tours by simply browsing and selecting items from a list of popular displays.
4. The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
This venerable Russian institution was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great. Since then, the State Hermitage’s collection has grown to include nearly three million pieces – along with the largest collection of paintings in the entire world. The Hermitage Museum complex encompasses a total of six historical buildings, including the former imperial residence of the Russian Tzars.
The State Hermitage visitors can use the museum’s official iPhone app to find their way around the massive museum and admire the treasures of the imperial palaces while following predesigned thematic tours. The app can also be consulted for information about museum news and upcoming events as well as for additional visual and textual information about all the artwork in the museum’s collection.
App users from any corner of the world can enjoy exploring impressive three-dimensional panoramas of the palace interiors and learning from some of the educational courses that are available within the app.
5. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
With over one and a half million visitors each year, the Uffizi Gallery ranks among the most visited museums in the world. Once the center of administrative and judicial offices (uffizi) of Florence, it now hosts the masterpieces of the great Italian artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo, as well as some of the most important works of the Renaissance.
Uffizi Gallery has embraced mobile technology to promote its collection of more than 1,500 works of art and to assist visitors by taking them on an interactive tour through the gallery’s exhibition areas. The Gallery’s iPhone app features a digital map that shows all the rooms and lists all the artwork exhibited there. When a visitors selects an exhibit of their interest, the app displays detailed information about it along with several photographs.
Uffizi Gallery’s museum app provides access to all sorts of information a user might need, from opening hours, ticket prices and current exhibitions to museum news, special events and announcements. At the same time, it can even serve as a trip-planning module for any user visiting Florence.